Squadron 105 in Belleville, N.J., helps 9-year-old with leukemia

Belleville, NJ

Sons of The American Legion Squadron 105, following a fundraiser held in August, presented a check this week to 9-year-old Alex, recently in remission from leukemia. SAL 105 proudly raised $6,000 to help with his family’s expenses during his fight with cancer.

On the first Sunday in December 2022, Alex finally was in a place where he was comfortable dropping by to meet his new friends at the post, and to take a photo with "the big check." To his surprise, Ol’ Saint Nick was also there waiting for him, toys in hand.

Back over the summer, SAL 105 Commander Steve Sangemino and Erica Portee, whose father was a Post 105 Legionnaire, got together and decided to put the full resources of the 105 Family into helping Alex and his family out. Alex is Erica’s nephew, and he was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 6. After beating cancer and “ringing the bell” in November 2021, he hit a relapse in February 2022 which was much more difficult. Post and Squadron 105 decided to make it their mission to raise money to help him get through his treatment, which included 12 rounds of chemotherapy and T-cell immunotherapy.

The fundraiser was held in the post parking lot at a benefit BBQ on Aug. 28. With attendees making a $15 donation at the door, donations came from all over the area – among them American Legion Post 299, Belleville Mayor Melham, Councilman Vinny Cozarelli, plus many other organizations and individuals from the area. In a very emotional Facebook Post, Sangemino wrote “Oh my God every single time I get down on my SAL brother's they step up and amaze me … With all your help we were able to raise $6,000 to give to his family [who] surely need our help.”

Members of the American Legion Auxiliary, which is going through the chartering process at Post 105, were also indispensable with their help.

Fun-loving Alex, who is on his way back to doing all of the things he loves – riding his bike, playing the piano, taekwondo and watching wrestling, to name a few – came down to Post 105 four months after the fundraiser to say thanks. Outside taking a photo with his new SAL 105 buddies, Alex’s mom Lydia Alvarez stated “…I’m humbled and thankful for this surprise you have all done for us … and more importantly that you have treated us like family. You guys have taken us in without knowing us, so my heart is full. Once we settle our job will be paying it forward, because of you all.”

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